Monday Notes

Vidala Triste, Gato Barbieri’s journey between the Andes and jazz

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Leggi in Italiano

[Monday Notes No. 57] Vidala triste is the final track on Gato Barbieri’s album Bolivia. It is the only sung piece of the whole album, a melancholic nursery rhyme rather than a real song. Gato Barbieri combines popular music of the Andes and jazz music, creating very evocative and interesting music.

Vidala triste concludes the album Bolivia as it began (see the article on Merceditas), with a composition in 6/8 based on a long pedal and a single minor chord, so the piece has a modal structure. The two tracks, the opening and closing ones, thus act as a frame for the whole work and make the album compact and unified.

In Vidala triste, Gato Barbieri abandons the sax and plays the flute instead, as well as singing. The flute alternates and overlaps with the voice, playing very often in a pentatonic scale. Accompanying the flute and voice are only double bass, guitar, percussion and the ever-present clapping of hands found throughout the album.

The lyrics were composed by Gato Barbieri together with his first wife Michelina. Michelina was Italian by birth, which is why Gato often lived in Italy from the 1960s onwards, working for the RAI orchestra and recording numerous songs, including the sax solo in Gino Paoli’s Sapore di sale.

Returning to the analysis of the song, the Vidala is a traditional South American musical form, a kind of Argentinian and Bolivian folk song, very ancient.

Vidala triste narrates the journey of the traveller-musician, who is always looking for new paths and has no precise destination. It is a minimal text, very powerful and evocative, which takes us to the Andes where the solitary musician walks without rest.

The song is from 1973 and Gato Barbieri was 41 years old, his path was still long and full of music. Gato’s recent death makes Vidala triste even more touching and melancholic, the journey of the man Gato Barbieri has indeed come to an end.

The work of an artist is eternal, however, and Gato Barbieri with his music continues to take us for a walk along the Andes, on the narrow and endless paths that he himself has taken.

Until next Monday!

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